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FS#8834 - [mailx] change to heirloom mailx

Attached to Project: Arch Linux
Opened by Andreas Wagner (awagner) - Tuesday, 04 December 2007, 11:44 GMT
Last edited by Stéphane Gaudreault (stephane) - Friday, 11 March 2011, 00:31 GMT
Task Type Feature Request
Category Packages: Core
Status Closed
Assigned To Aaron Griffin (phrakture)
Architecture All
Severity Low
Priority Normal
Reported Version 2007.08-2
Due in Version Undecided
Due Date Undecided
Percent Complete 100%
Votes 1
Private No


as per this forum thread:, I request considering switching the mailx package to the one offered by the heirloom project [1]. This is the successor of 'nail' which is used by many scripts (f.ex. logcheck) and, while being CLI-compatible with the 'core' UNIX mailx [2], offers much more features:

It doesn't need an smtp server running on localhost but can connect to a smarthost, even with several encryption methods (SMTPS, SMTP+TLS, IMAP etc.). It also provides a basic MUA (which UNIX mailx does as well), offering IMAP and POP(s) protocols and maildir storage. It supports UTF-8 and MIME mails and offers a CLI switch to attach a file to the mail (which very annoyingly current core mailx doesn't.)

Admittedly tho, it is a bigger package than the other mailx.

There's a short history of those packages at [3], and AFAIU, core mailx presently is System V mailx (which is open source only since opensolaris release in 2005 -- debian changelog reveals upstream changes get sourced in from OpenBSD tree [4]), a derivative of Berkeley Mail. While POSIX.2 was defined around mailx and not Berkeley Mail and heirloom mailx is an independent derivative of the latter, both versions of mailx now comply with POSIX.2 and Single Unix Specification, Version 3. Depending on how it is launched, heirloom also provides a Mail interface. Due to the fact that linux distributions couldn't use System V mailx until 2005, they often have had to resort to Berkeley Mail only with both 'mail' and 'mailx' calling 'Mail'. I am not sure when development of heirloom 'mailx', then under the name of 'nail' started, but since it aimed at providing strict POSIX.2 compliance and many of the additional features mentioned above that was an attractive option to replace 'Mail', so many distributions had 'mail'/'mailx' call nail then.
In 2006 nail was renamed heirloom mailx and recently distributions began to adjust to that. Others keep it as nail however.

AFAICT, OpenSUSE now uses heirloom mailx (under the name of mailx) by default [5]; Mandriva installs nail by default [6]; Fedora provides nail with their extra repository [7]; BeyondLFS uses mailx, symlinked to by 'mail' and 'nail' as well [8]; debian finally has GNU mailtools [9] (which provide yet another 'mail' supposed to replace mail/mailx [10], but provides UNIX mailx [11] and nail [12] as well -- I didn't understand which one of those was how much of a default, tho...

This task depends upon

Closed by  Stéphane Gaudreault (stephane)
Friday, 11 March 2011, 00:31 GMT
Reason for closing:  Fixed
Additional comments about closing:  heirloom-mailx-12.5-1
Comment by Aaron Griffin (phrakture) - Tuesday, 04 December 2007, 20:56 GMT
How about this, for starters - ask a TU to throw
into community, and make sure it conflicts/provides mailx. In this way we can evaluate the utility better, and possibly move it to extra.
Comment by Roman Kyrylych (Romashka) - Wednesday, 05 December 2007, 18:00 GMT
I cannot give you a FS# right now (have to go immediately) but there was a FR to remove mailx as a dependency of logrotate because it's an optional dependency in fact.
So we can get rid of mailx or any of its replacements from Core.
Comment by Aaron Griffin (phrakture) - Wednesday, 05 December 2007, 23:33 GMT
Hmmm, I don't know if we want it removed from core exactly, mailx is kinda important to the "die hards", but that's just my opinion.

If you end up finding that, could you attach it as related here?
Comment by Roman Kyrylych (Romashka) - Thursday, 06 December 2007, 15:58 GMT
Done. It's  FS#6911 .  FS#4812  is related as well.
Comment by Greg (dolby) - Saturday, 10 May 2008, 10:18 GMT
Even if mailx doesnt get removed from Core is there any reason to keep it in base while not being part of the base group? Maybe it could move to Support?
Comment by Greg (dolby) - Sunday, 11 May 2008, 08:19 GMT Comment by Gavin Bisesi (Daenyth) - Saturday, 21 March 2009, 14:11 GMT
mailx was just updated, what's the status on this?
Comment by Allan McRae (Allan) - Saturday, 21 March 2009, 14:13 GMT
mailx-heirloom only has 17 votes in community so it is not really that popular...
Comment by Eric Belanger (Snowman) - Monday, 07 December 2009, 02:50 GMT
Status? Should we just close this FR? It's 2 years old.
Comment by Andreas Wagner (awagner) - Monday, 07 December 2009, 12:06 GMT
Even as OP, I don't have a strong opinion on this. I have both mailx (core) and mailx-heirloom (community) installed and no problems.
Comment by Paul Mattal (paul) - Saturday, 06 March 2010, 20:16 GMT
I will close this on April 2010 bug day as "won't implement" unless someone objects.
Comment by Karol Błażewicz (karol) - Monday, 26 April 2010, 20:38 GMT
> I will close this on April 2010 bug day as "won't implement" unless someone objects.
Comment by Stéphane Gaudreault (stephane) - Friday, 11 March 2011, 00:31 GMT
As part of the [core] rebuild we are replacing mailx by heirloom-mailx.
heirloom-mailx-12.5-1 is in [testing]